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If you're like most people, you probably have a lot of questions about diamonds. For such a tiny treasure they can seem quite complicated. Purchasing a diamond need not be an intimidating experience. We'll help you understand how every diamond is different from the next, and why some are much more valuable than others.

Cut of the Diamond

Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. We often think of a diamond's cut as shape (round, emerald, pear), but a diamond's cut grade is really about how well a diamond's facets interact with light.

Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry, and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond.

 

Cut of the Diamond

Color of the Diamond

A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA's D-to-Z diamond color-grading system – the industry's most widely accepted grading system – measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones stones of established color value. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z. While many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye, they make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.

 

Color of the Diamond

Clarity of the Diamond

Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality and value. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.

 

Clarity of the Diamond

Carat Weight of the Diamond

One carat is defined as 200 milligrams. Because a carat measures the diamond's weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight.

All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut. It's important to remember that a diamond's value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight.

 

Carat Weight of the Diamond

Shape of the Diamond

Round Diamond Shape

ROUND
The most popular diamond shape, accounted for 75% of all diamonds sold. Due to the mechanics of its shape, the round diamond is generally superior to fancy shapes at the proper reflection of light, maximizing potential brightness.

Princess Diamond Shape

PRINCESS
Created in 1980, it is the most popular fancy diamond shape, especially for engagement rings. Like round cut diamonds, princess cut diamonds are a good choice for their flexibility in working in almost any style of ring.

Marquis Diamond Shape

MARQUIS
Carat for carat, the football-shaped marquise diamond has one of the largest surface areas of any diamond shape, making it a good choice when trying to maximize perceived size.

Pear Diamond Shape

PEAR
A combination of a round and a marquise shape. Ideally, a pear shaped diamond should possess excellent or very good symmetry. The point should line up with the apex of the rounded end.

Heart Diamond Shape

HEART
An unmistakable symbol of love, popular in solitaire pendants as well as rings. Heart shaped diamonds less than .50 carats may not be a good choice, since the heart shape is more difficult to perceive in smaller diamond.

Oval Diamond Shape

OVAL
A modified brilliant-cut with the added advantage of an elongated shape, which can create the illusion of greater size.

Emerald Diamond Shape

EMERALD
This unique look is due to the step cuts of its pavilion and its large, open table. Instead of the sparkle of a brilliant-cut, emerald cut diamonds produce a hall-of-mirrors effect, with the interplay of light and dark planes.

Cushion Diamond Shape

CUSHION
A square cut with rounded corners, much like a pillow (hence the name). This classic cut has been around for almost 200 years, and for the first century of its existence was the most popular diamond shape.

Radiant Diamond Shape

RADIANT
The first rectangular cut to have a complete brilliant-cut facet pattern applied to both the crown and pavilion, creating a vibrant and lively diamond. A cross between a cushion and a princess cut.

Asscher Diamond Shape

ASSCHER
Introduced in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. Similar to the emerald cut, but in a square shape with larger step facets, a higher crown, and a smaller table, resulting more brilliance than the emerald cut.